The New Architecture: Sky Parks, Tidal Pools and ‘Solar Carving’

Can buildings be extra porous, extra open to the vitality of the encircling metropolis? As with the creation of the good city parks of the 19th century, designers immediately are rebalancing the connection between structure and nature, with the purpose of accelerating the standard of life, particularly in city settings.

Sometimes this implies erasing boundaries between indoors and open air, buildings and setting. Instead of the man-made and the natural jockeying for place or dominance, they’re sharing one another’s territory. And sometimes they seamlessly fuse, every remodeling the opposite. This, in any case, is the age of the rooftop farm and the out of doors convention room.

Whether any of those gestures will mitigate the urgent issues of world warming and rising sea ranges continues to be unknown — the repair seemingly requires greater than what one panorama architect calls “boutique wetlands.” But initiatives debuting this fall counsel that onerous limitations between the designed setting and the pure one are softening — perhaps for good.

This collection of rehearsal, performance and meeting spaces is set among gardens and a ginkgo grove yet so cleverly integrated into the greenery that underground rooms are flooded with daylight (grassy slopes conceal rooftops).

A new pedestrian pathway provides a long-overdue connection to the National Mall and will allow joggers and bicyclists on the Potomac to visit the outdoor cafe or watch a live opera performance simulcast on an outdoor screen. The Reach immerses performers in the environment and lures passers-by. “It gives the meaning of a living memorial a new dimension,” Mr. Holl said.

You can see the faceted black glass from the High Line, just south of 14th Street, or catch a glimpse as you drive along West Street. It looks like an experiment in fractal theory; the mass of the office building appears to just fall away. It’s an effect that the Chicago-based architect Jeanne Gang calls “solar carving,” an approach that has become her signature: she designs glass facades with patterns that appear decorative but address problems like solar heat gain or bird strikes.

For Studio Gang’s first completed project in New York City, the facade was sculpted to prevent it from casting shadows on the famous elevated park next door. This act of architectural generosity came about, Ms. Gang said, because she wasn’t just “thinking about the views from inside the building, but thinking about people’s views on the High Line.”

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